Director: Darrell Roodt
Writer: Jonathan Lloyd Walker, Matt Venables, Jeremy Smith
Producer: Lance Samuels
Stars: Katherine Barrell, Tim Rozon, Sai Bennett, Luke Newton, Craig Stein, Joe Pantoliano, Alisha Bailey, Maxim Baldry, Greg Kriek, Gavin Lee Gomes
Acting on a rival’s challenge, a team of young explorers travels to a remote island where they encounter a giant crocodile.
I had never seen a “Lake Placid” movie prior to “Legacy,” not even David E. Kelley’s 1999 original. Normally, I wouldn’t break into a series with what is, remarkably, its sixth entry. But in doing nominal Wikipedia research on the franchise, I learned that of the 45 key characters across the half-dozen films, only two actors (Yancy Butler and Robert Englund) ever returned for a second sequel. The six flicks have also had six different directors and five different writers/writing teams.
In other words, “Lake Placid” doesn’t appear to be a property particularly concerned with continuity, either in front of or behind the camera. It seems safe to assume then, that familiarity with the preceding films has nearly no bearing on understanding or enjoying “Legacy,” and probably little bearing on any other “Lake Placid” movie for that matter.
Really, how complicated can one movie, or six movies, about a giant killer crocodile even be anyway? The answer, evidently, is “not very.”
The setup putting everyone in harm’s way this time around involves a quintet of environmental activists who accept a dare from a rival urban explorer to find a remote location strangely stricken from Google Maps. Two local guides claim a toxic spill made the area off limits. Phony security cameras and a suspicious lack of radiation suggest someone concocted a cover story to hide an even deadlier secret. Venturing deeper into the forested island for a look-see, the group spends the following hour and change facing off against a mutant croc in the water, among the trees, and throughout an abandoned underground research facility.
Only ten people appear across the entirety of “Lake Placid: Legacy,” making the movie an efficiently economical production in more ways than one. Joe Pantoliano features as the cast’s biggest name, although he doesn’t show up until almost a full hour has elapsed. After belching up remaining backstory bits, Pantoliano promptly disappears for most of the third act’s remainder until a brief return for his unceremonious end.
The other actors are collectively up to the task of having no more and no less enthusiasm than minimally required by Syfy Original standards for photogenic appeal first and character depth a distant second. Tim Rozon, who plays the group’s bearded leader, possesses a poor man’s Anson Mount quality that keeps onscreen charisma at a steady temperature. As sidekick Spencer, Craig Stein might be the only other semi-standout, and that’s because he plays his part with over-animation fit for a Farrelly Brothers comedy. As cartoonish as Stein gets, his exaggerated energy remains preferable to the 180-degree alternative of having zero personality at all.
The killer crocodile looks precisely like the seldom-seen CGI creation audiences have come to expect from such flicks. Some bad digital blood notwithstanding, post-production effects essentially shoot for par on this course of B-movie Muenster.
A giant crocodile trashing people, places, and things can only sustain a certain amount of suspense, perhaps explaining why “Lake Placid: Legacy” compensates for the scarcity of murderous monster mayhem with alternative opportunities for action. “Lake Placid: Legacy” hits it runtime quota by padding itself with scenes like rappelling down a subterranean shaft, swimming through flooded tunnels, futzing with communications equipment, and other contrived methods of dividing characters into increasingly smaller groups for subplot separation.
Made quickly yet competently, “Lake Placid: Legacy” basically fills the function of being a serviceable slot filler aiming squarely for a C+ grade. Writing openly acknowledges its clichéd construction, with one character muttering, “don’t go down the stairs, Horror Movie 101.” Dialogue later launches into exposition about why the lights work in a disused mine, telling us more about how the writers anticipated likely audience “wha huhs?” and tried getting a step ahead.
“Lake Placid: Legacy” gets three stars out of five for being a-ok for this sort of thing, with “this sort of thing” being made-for-mediocrity cable TV creature claptrap. At the very least, “Legacy” has pretty good production value for a mega-monster movie that premiered on Syfy, better than almost anything with “versus” or “-asaurus” in its title anyway.
Review Score: 60